It is my opinion that while the Edict of Milan facilitated the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire, it was bad for Christianity. My rationale for this is as follows: the ancient tradition of Cuius regio eius religio[i][/i]or the religion of the ruler is the religion of the ruled made everyone a Christian by default. Too many hangers on were now a member of the faith de jour. With a shortage of Theology and Doctrine the new public faith was open to a great deal of interpretation and we saw the rise of a number of such in the next several years. This was such a problem that Constantine was obliged to convene the Council of Nicea in 325 to address the Arian controversy. The good news is that we then moved into formal creed statements, the bad news is that ecclesiastical matter were decided in a civil forum.
Other problems involved the appearance of a variety of Canon of Scripture- each school of thought with their specific canon to support their views. And while the Easter Letter of Athanasius in 367 C.E. set the canon in the form we have today, it was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 that the church finally approved and closed the canon. But this off the subject. my basic contention is that Constantine made Christianity easy and convenient and this has paved the road to what Bonhoeffer called 'Cheap Grace'; and that will be the downfall of the Christian Church.
Deacon ... welcome to this low-traffic corner of the web!
I love Constantine and wouldn't trade him for anyone. I'm (almost) on the same page with you about the negative impact on the church. I wouldn't go so far as to say it will be the downfall of the church, because I know the gates of hell will not prevail against her. The church can (and has) backslid, but she will not fall.
During the era of the persecuted church, open hypocrisy was almost nonexistent. Why fake it if it the consequences could be devastating? After Constantine made it fashionable, Christians had a whole new breed of wolf roaming among the flock.
Edited by dfmurphy on 03/10/2009 01:03
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